by Susan TuttleI've been memorizing Scripture this year over on my blog Steps, and the current verse I've been working on is:
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43: 18-19
When I first read this, I focused on how God tells us not to look back, to not dwell on our past. And oh, can we do that, right? All our mistakes can really trip us up, to the point that we forget they are forgiven and we are redeemed. But we are the moment we ask God to forgive them! 1 John 1:9 says If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
And I do think this is a great way to look at the verse in Isaiah. It's a great nudge to look forward to your new life and stop staring in your rear view mirror at your old life.
However, this week I saw the verse in another light. Sometimes it's not that we can't hurdle our past, but that we cling to it. Sure, we may have been in bondage (think of how the Israelites WANTED to return to Egypt at one point--seriously, check out Numbers 14:1-4) but when that's all we know, when our bondage has become our comfort zone and our habit, then sometimes we don't want to let it go. We want to stay there.
But God is saying - FORGET it! Let it go and stop dwelling there because I'm doing a NEW thing here!
For a new thing to happen, you've got to let go of the old, otherwise it's just the same-ol-same-ol. Sure, it can be scary, but if we want to keep growing into who God has created us to be, we've got to let go of our grip on the familiar and cling to the new.
Because when God's in the new, it's something you won't want to miss.
by Susan TuttleAt our church’s mid-week Bible study this week we spoke about our lives and how they’ve been changed since meeting Christ. We were asked to fill in this blank: Since meeting Christ, the one word I’d use to describe my life is____________ One woman at our table said, “found”. I love it! Found. We once were lost and now we’re found. It means He sees us. We’re not invisible. It means He sought after us. We are valuable. It means He has a place for us. We belong. And this is the best part. Have you ever lost something incredibly valuable to you? Torn places apart looking for it? Worried and grieved over the loss, only to find it later? What did you do? I bet you celebrated. Well, Beloved, God and all of heaven throw a crazy party, rejoicing, singing, dancing, feasting…all over YOU being found. Don’t believe me? Read Luke 15. The chapter is filled with three parables telling the story over things lost and now found. In the first two parables when the item is found, here’s what it says: “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:10 (see also Luke 15:7) And then they move on to the final parable of the lost son which paints a picture of what heaven looks like when YOU are found. Go ahead, read it, and see yourself. They party! So today, if you’re feeling lost, call out to Jesus…He’s only waiting to hear your voice. Call on Him. You will be found. And then they’ll party in Heaven--all because of you.Your Turn: What would YOU fill in the blank with above?
(If you are a new Christian, we’d love it if you contact one of us so we can celebrate with you, pray for you, and get you some information. Or if you have more questions about Christ, we’d love to chat.)
by Susan Tuttle
The Lord remembers us and will bless us. Psalm 115:12
I recently read Hannah’s story out of 1 Samuel. She was a barren woman, and I cannot even begin to imagine her pain. In that day and age not bearing children made her an outcast, and though her husband loved her dearly, it was a burden she could not escape. It didn’t help that his other wife, Peninnah, taunted her. Hannah could not escape the sadness of her empty womb, and she made herself sick over it.
Hannah had to wonder where God was. She prayed for a child, and yet year after year she remained childless. Year after year Peninnah reminded her that she had children and Hannah did not. Year after year there remained silence from God.
I think sometimes, in that silence, we stop craving the one thing we desire and begin to crave God’s voice. We want to know he sees us. We want his presence even more than the one thing we are missing. That thing no longer is our idol and our eyes shift to God. Our heart becomes consumed with one thought, “Lord, have you forgotten me?”
Hannah had this moment. Where what she wanted was eclipsed by wanting to know God had not forgotten her. Listen to her prayer:
“Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life…” (v.11)
See, opening her womb became the sign that she wasn’t forgotten. It was no longer about having a child. No, she simply wanted the assurance that God remembered her. He could have the child, only look on her with favor and show her he hadn’t forgotten her. That mattered more. And God heard her and after what must have felt like an eternity to Hannah, "God remembered her. So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son." (vs.19-20)
Beloved, just like Hannah, God sees you. He hears you. His silence does not mean you are forgotten. He’s at work. I cannot promise the answer will be what you want it to be or even when you want it, but I can promise this: he is the God who sees you, El Roi, and he remembers you.
***reposted from my blog, Steps
Until my baby died, the quicksand kept pulling me down.
One step at a time, I was sucked into the mire deeper and deeper.
I knew the king was in his palace that day. Maybe I wanted to punish him for staying safely in Jerusalem while my husband, Uriah, and the rest of the army faced the enemy on the battlefield.
I knew King David could see the roof of my house from his palace balcony, where he liked to walk, but that day I chose to bathe on the roof in broad daylight.
That was my first step into the quagmire. But I didn't expect what happened next. One of the king's servants appeared at my door, saying my presence was requested at the palace.
How could I refuse? He was not only the king, he was my husband’s supreme commander. And perhaps I was lonely. Whatever the reason, I went to the king and willingly gave myself to him.
We enjoyed being together and the loneliness faded away. Everything seemed wonderful.
Until I learned I was pregnant.
Since my husband had been away at war, everyone would know that I had been unfaithful. Uriah could have me stoned for adultery.
When I revealed the situation to David, the color fled from his face. Soldiers would no longer want to fight for a king who slept with the wife of one of his commanders, while the army slept on the ground miles from home. He devised a plan and sent for Uriah, but when David told him to go home and spend time with me, he refused to even sleep in the house. "How can I enjoy any comforts while my men are on the front lines?" he asked me. Nothing I did could seduce him to lay with me.
Then David arranged for Uriah to be caught in the middle of the line of battle, ensuring that he would be killed. When the word of his death reached me, I pretended to grieve but inside I was relieved. I thanked God for giving me—and the king—a way out of our predicament.
How wrong I was!
David and I married and soon we celebrated the birth of our son. Life seemed to be all I ever wanted it to be. David wanted an heir to the throne, and he believed our son would be king one day.
When the baby became ill, David begged God to heal him but nothing helped. Not his prayers. Not sacrifices. Not the herbs and spices of the healers. After our son died, I thought the heartbreak would kill us, too.
That's when God showed me the sins we had committed against Him. I confessed my transgressions to God and knew the cleansing power of His forgiveness.
It took David awhile, but after he went to see the priest, he changed. He returned with a peace about him that he had not shown since we met. He even wrote this beautiful song that says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
Maybe you've heard it, but no one can sing it like David can. His voice resonates with his passion and love for the Lord.
God pulled us out of the mighty mess we walked into with such stubbornness. He rescued us and gave us another chance. He also gave us another son.
See, he's sleeping now. We named him Solomon. And our God has promised me that he will be a great king, and that through his children, all the people of the world will be saved.
Aren’t you grateful that God is a God of second chances?
© 2012 Marie Wells Coutu
by Susan Tuttle
How often do we attach that word to ourselves? Or let others do it for us.
But taking on that name does not make it true.
See, we are all unworthy, but not one of us is worthless. Not one.
Beloved, do you not know what God did for you? He purchased you—and your cost was so much more than silver or gold. It was His blood. “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (1 Peter 1:18-19)
Don’t minimize the price which was paid for you. If He thought you were worthless, He wouldn’t have died for you. And yet, He took on the cross with joy, knowing we were unworthy. "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus...who for the joy set out before him endured the cross..." (Hebrews 12:2) and He "...demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Hebrews 5:12)
He knew we were sinners. He knew we couldn’t approach the Holy throne of God looking the way we did. And He knew there was nothing we could do to change it…but He could.
So He did.
See, it is only through grace that we are saved. The very nature of grace is it’s a gift given to one who does not deserve it—one who is unworthy. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)
Unworthy, yes. We all are...which is the beauty of His grace. But worthless? No. Christ sees your worth. He loves you more than there are words, and He desires you for His very own. All He wants is for you to accept His gift. Accept Him.
Bring all your guilt and shame to Him. Let Him carry it. Let Him wipe it from you--gone forever. Because underneath it all is a beautiful daughter of Christ. Spotless. Cleansed by His blood. And worthy of her Father’s love.
All you need to do is believe.
You are loved. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
by Susan Tuttle
“I want to be beautiful.”
Ever said those words?
Ever realize that maybe you already are?
The One who made you makes no mistakes.
Everything He makes is good.
Everything He makes is worthy of love.
Look into His reflection, not the mirror's.
And find you are beautiful.
Simply because you are His. He has made everything beautiful in its time…Ecclesiastes 3:11
—EVERYTHING…that includes you!